BEIJING (AP) — Britain on Monday rejected a statement from China affirming its support for Argentina over its Falkland Islands claims, as relations between London and the Asian power remain tense.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that the UK “completely rejects any doubts about the sovereignty of the Falklands”, as Britain calls the Falklands.
“The Falklands are part of the British family and we will defend their right to self-determination. China must respect the sovereignty of the Falklands,” he wrote.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Argentine counterpart Alberto Fernández issued a joint statement on Sunday saying that China “reaffirms its support for Argentina’s demand for the full exercise of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.” Both leaders met while the Winter Olympics are taking place in Beijing.
Argentina claims the Falklands were illegally taken from it in 1833 and it invaded the British colony in 1982. Britain sent troops and Argentina lost the two-month war in the South Atlantic archipelago in a conflict that claimed the lives of 649 soldiers. Argentines and 255 British.
Buenos Aires still claims that the islands belong to it and London asserts that they are an autonomous entity under its protection.
The statement also notes that Argentina “reaffirms its allegiance to the one-China principle,” a reference to Beijing’s territorial claims on the autonomous island of Taiwan.
“China and Argentina agreed to continue close communication and coordination in international affairs, and safeguard the general interests of both countries and other developing countries,” the statement said.
Xi and Fernandez also pledged closer economic cooperation and signed a memorandum of understanding on Argentina joining the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi’s flagship project to develop Chinese infrastructure globally.
During his visit, Fernández also placed a wreath at the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao, where the embalmed body of Mao Zedong, the revolutionary communist who founded the People’s Republic, is displayed inside a glass sarcophagus.